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Regional cinema could overtake Hindi films in box office collections

The contribution of Hindi, regional language, and Hollywood films to India’s box office collections is set for a major change this year as Bollywood releases fewer films in theatres while regional cinema lines up offerings that have been drawing audiences, film trade experts said.

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Hindi film industry seems to be on the back-foot as its largest territory Maharashtra is yet to allow reopening of cinemas, hurting revenues of theatre releases.

As things stand today, regional language cinema, driven by Telugu and Tamil films, could make up nearly 50% of overall box office collections, a drastic jump from the 25-30% it would bring in before the pandemic, said two trade experts. The rest will be divided equally between Hindi and Hollywood (including dubbed versions) films that are yet to find their bearings after the first and second covid waves. Before the pandemic, Hindi films made up 50-60% of overall box office revenues.

n 2019, Bollywood had crossed box office collections of Rs4,000 crore while Hollywood clocked nearly Rs1,225 crore. Regional cinemas had made Rs1,500-2,000 crore.

“It is clear that regional cinema will lead the way towards box office recovery in the next few months. After the release of Akshay Kumar’s Bellbottom, the Hindi film industry was expected to go into a complete overdrive, announcing films one after the other. But the collections haven’t matched expectations and one doesn’t see any new Hindi movie at least for the next month,” film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said.

While Kangana Ranaut-starrer Thalaivii will see a Hindi version arrive in cinemas on 10 September, the film, based on the life of actor and politician J.Jayalalithaa, is primarily aimed at the southern market with its Tamil and Telugu versions. The next Hindi title, the medium-budget Ravan Leela, featuring Pratik Gandhi of Scam 1992 fame, is slated for 1 October, as of now. Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and Ranveer Singh’s ’83 are yet to announce dates. There are no schedules given for any Diwali releases either. Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi’s Chehre had released on 27 August.

Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai agreed the Hindi market remains a high-risk bet and Bellbottom, an action flick with a dose of nationalism, could have done far better under normal circumstances.

“In terms of theatre releases, the Telugu film industry has raced way ahead of Bollywood, especially during the pandemic. In states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, cinema is a passion and the favourite form of entertainment for the family,” Pillai said. Even in the overseas markets the situation is similar where Telugu films are witnessing higher footfalls, he added. Live Mint

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